Six mothers left eight kids in the hands of Coke Bolipata and his team of facilitators and counselors at Casa San Miguel, Zambales. Six mothers went gallivanting and first stop was Jerry Acuzar’s heritage resort by the beach in Bagac, Bataan, the famed Las Casas Filipinas. The place is a testimony to the power of dreams, of one man’s vision to rescue architectural treasures from the brink of decay and gather them in one place. Brick by brick, stone by stone, plank by plank, entire houses and buildings were transported from their original location elsewhere to this idyllic place where sea meets mountain meets sky. Some might say it’s sacrilege and the houses are better off where there were but if they had remained put, the chances of gradual destruction through time and neglect would be way, way higher.
Six mothers ooohed and aaaahed at the beautiful details of old buildings set against a gorgeous, natural backdrop. Wide open windows allow the ocean breeze to cool the homes and each mom chose which house she’d like to live in, which house best represented her and her spirit.
Six mothers posed to their hearts delight in a boat ride echoing Venice but in Philippine waters. A sculpture of Lola Basyang telling stories to a group of kids stood on the grass beside a bridge held by a trio of native monsters: the tikbalang, manananggal and kapre.
Not all structures in Las Casas are original. Some are replicas with parts re-imagined and re-interpreted. The Hotel de Oriente for instance was totally ravaged in Binondo and found another life in Bataan, this time as a showcase for the wood carving and wood mosaic skills of local craftsmen. In this reincarnation, the hotel is now a conference area with theater and grand ballroom. When the six moms saw the stage, they clambered up like little kids and danced their hearts away like they owned the whole world-wide platform. They didn’t need any facilitator to express themselves freely through movement.
Six mothers flowed with the music from their cellphone. Six mothers danced like no one was watching.
We didn’t stay overnight at Las Casas. Instead, we drove to a gem of a discovery: Island Waters Resort, less than an hour away in Morong. When I went on an ocular trip looking for reasonable and decent accommodation, it was such a challenge because the selection was limited and quite unacceptable, but Island Waters saved the day with crisp modern lines and clean, basic rooms.
Six mothers played in the waves and basked in the sunset. Six mothers lounged by the pool, breathing in calmness.
Read more about Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar and Hotel de Oriente: